In This Issue:
- From the Director
- Trainer Spotlight – Loretta Ross inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame
- December Classes
- Gazette Article by Truth School Trainers Carrie N. Baker and Max Fallon-Goodwin: Indian schools and a ‘Road to Healing’
- Andrea Ayvazian Column: Many blessings, many thanks
From the Director
We are living through disturbing times–our hearts are broken, our sleep is disrupted, we wander around losing our keys and our glasses and we worry about losing our minds. We ache for those suffering in Israel and Palestine, and in Ukraine. We wring our hands and send off checks, we gather with friends and share our despair, we bow our heads in places of worship, we shield our children and grandchildren, if we even can. We are living through terrible times.
The Truth School is aware of all the activists who are praying for peace, speaking out for justice, and showing compassion during this time of enormous pain. We are grateful to all of you who value loving and listening. The leadership of the Truth School does not have one position, a clear strategy, or an answer to the wars being fought. We offer no one solution to these complex issues. But we always stand for peace, we always lift up the dignity of each person, we always believe in nonviolence, we always fight oppression in all its forms, we always work for justice, and we always denounce brutality, war atrocities, and the killing of innocents.
We are clinging to the wise words of Dr. Margaret Wheatley, American writer, teacher and speaker, who believes that in the face of social collapse, we need to create what she calls “islands of sanity.” Wheatley believes that when there is great suffering we must also create great love and beauty. She says that we must pull together and fan the embers of hope within each other, we must hold fast to what is good and spread goodness around us. Wheatley’s “islands of sanity” mean that when we refuel together–remembering our shared values, and harmonizing our behaviors with our beliefs–we can continue the hard work of struggling for peace and standing up for justice.
We are living through times that have disturbed our sense of safety, dislodged our sense of home, divided us one from another, and discouraged us from speaking out. And so it is increasingly important that we–each one of us–creates an island of sanity whenever and wherever we can.
“Fear of uncertainty that we face, when perceived as a threat, can cause us to retreat from one another, from values that held us together, from ideas and practices that encouraged inclusion, from faith leaders, from belief in basic human goodness,” says Dr. Wheatley. “But whatever the problem, community is the answer.”
And it was community that brought the wider Truth School family together on November 10th when we created an island of sanity in Northampton, MA. Billed as a fundraising concert for the School, we brought together singers and songwriters to share their talent and their love with a community desperate for a sense of hope. In song after song, our performers poured their hearts out singing about courage and loving, faith and loss, caring and giving, and showing up for one another. We were a multi-ethnic, intergenerational, and interfaith crowd of some 250 people, and we filled a local church. People clapped, swayed, sang along, and jumped to their feet repeatedly. We created an island of sanity. “It felt so good to feel so good,” one TS Board member said after the concert. “The concert was filled with beautiful and holy moments,” a Truth School trainer wrote to me after the concert. Another Truth School Board member sent a text saying, “…we were uplifted by moments of beauty, joy, and togetherness as we face this sad and broken world.”
And so I want to say thank you to the fine performers and many good souls who gave of their time and planned, organized, and performed in what was a magical evening when we, for a moment, created an effervescent island of sanity here in Northampton, MA on a cold November evening. And I say thank you to all of you from coast to coast who are creating islands of sanity, investing in beauty, and piercing the sorrow through art and beauty, love and compassion. I say thank you to all of you out there who are peacemakers and bridge-builders, all of you able to remain tender-hearted even while you are broken-hearted. We stand with you. And here in Western Mass in a church on Main Street in our little New England city, we stood and sang in solidarity with you all.
And may you be abundantly blessed,
Loretta Ross, Smith College professor, founder of the National Center for Human Rights Education in Atlanta, 2022 MacArthur Fellowship recipient, and our very own Truth School trainer has been inducted into the Women’s National Hall of Fame along with Ruby Bridges, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Serena Williams. Loretta Ross is a Black academic, feminist, and activist for reproductive justice. She has dedicated her career in academia and activism to reframing reproductive rights within the broader context of human rights.
Congratulations, Dr. Ross!
“Today I am taking sides.
I am taking the side of Peace.
Peace, which I will not abandon
even when its voice is drowned out
by hurt and hatred,
bitterness of loss,
cries of right and wrong.
I am taking the side of Peace
whose name has barely been spoken
in this winnerless war.
I will hold Peace in my arms,
and share my body’s breath,
lest Peace be added
to the body count.
I will call for de-escalation
even when I want nothing more
than to get even.
I will do it
in the service of Peace.
I will make a clearing
in the overgrown
thicket of cause and effect
so Peace can breathe
for a minute
and reach for the sky.
I will do what I must
to save the life of Peace.
I will breathe through tears.
I will swallow pride.
I will bite my tongue.
I will offer love
without testing for deservingness.
So don’t ask me to wave a flag today
unless it is the flag of Peace.
Don’t ask me to sing an anthem
unless it is a song of Peace.
Don’t ask me to take sides
unless it is the side of Peace.”
~ Rabbi Irwin Keller, Oct. 17, 2023
DECEMBER TRUTH SCHOOL CLASSES
If you register for a class but can’t make it, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Accurate information about class size is important for trainers to know for preparation and planning purposes.
Thank you for this courtesy.
Wednesday, December 6, 2023, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM
with Benita Jackson
Circle Practice to Mark the Winter Solstice
Thursday, December 21, 2023, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
with Irene “Strong Oak” Lefebvre
Gazette Article by Truth School Trainers Carrie N. Baker and Max Fallon-Goodwin: Indian schools and a ‘Road to Healing’
‘They stripped me down, they cut my hair off, they poured the liquid in my hair and told me to go to the showers,” testified 72-year-old Dora Brought Plenty about when she first entered the Indian boarding school where she spent her childhood years.
Holding back tears, Brought Plenty — of the Lakota Sioux tribe, Turtle Clan and Standing Rock Sioux tribe — stood in front of a group of Indigenous activists in Anadarko, Oklahoma, last July. The group included Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo.
Read more HERE
Columnist Andrea Ayvazian: Many blessings, many thanks
I have been writing monthly columns for the Gazette since 2009. Often, in November, I would write how painful I find it that the story of Thanksgiving has been misinterpreted, white-washed, and taught incorrectly in schools nationwide.
I also have described the annual gathering led by Indigenous peoples on Thanksgiving — called by many a National Day of Mourning — in Plymouth, and how stirring and sorrowful that ceremony is. I also have written about how the wealth gap in this country feels especially poignant as winter begins and the cold sets in. Read more HERE